Terrifying fall: The cliff above the northern end of Boulder Beach.
Terrifying fall: The cliff above the northern end of Boulder Beach. Cathy Adams

Angler survives 10m cliff plunge

THE Skennars Head fisherman who fell 10 metres down a cliff reckons he owes his life to his mobile phone and his little brother.

John Pierce, 23, was walking along the cliff edge at the northern end of Boulder Beach to meet his 17-year-old brother Nolan to go fishing about 5.30pm on Sunday when a rock gave way underfoot.

“I didn't know how far the drop was going to be,” he said last night, after being released from hospital.

“It took me completely by surprise. I tried to grab on to something, but there was nothing there. I ended up free-falling about eight metres and landing on my feet. I really thought I'd done some damage.

“I got really badly winded when I landed and blacked out. I couldn't think straight.

“When I came to the waves were washing in. It was pretty scary. I was so lucky I had my phone. I called my brother Nolan, who knew exactly where I was.”

Nolan, climbed down and rescued his big brother, getting him back to the top before emergency services arrived.

“I guess I owe him now,” Mr Pierce laughed.

NSW Ambulance duty officer, Inspector Greg Powell, said Mr Pierce was ‘very, very lucky'.

“He fell 10 metres, maybe more,” he said. “It was a clear fall, straight on to rocks.

“He was complaining of pain to his lower limbs, chest injuries and he had a decreased level of consciousness. At the time we thought he may have also punctured a lung.”

Insp Powell said several paramedics last week had participated in a training session dealing with cliff rescues on Lennox Point, which helped Sunday's operation.

Ballina SES unit controller, Gerry Burnage said Mr Pierce had already made it back to the top of the cliff by the time they arrived.

The SES crew took Mr Pierce to the ambulance, which relayed him to the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter waiting nearby as there were suspected spinal injuries.

Mr Pierce was airlifted to Lismore Base Hospital suffering fractured ribs and a broken foot.

Fishing experts said yesterday he was lucky to be alive.

The area is notoriously dangerous, and several fishermen have been swept off that spot at Boulder Beach.

Gary ‘Squidgie' Palmer, from Ballina Bait and Tackle, said rock fishing was a dangerous sport.

“Where this bloke was, it's a pretty popular fishing spot. But all it takes is one second of complacency and you're gone,” he said.

“Common sense must prevail when you're out on the rocks.

“Always wear the right footwear and always fish with a friend.

“It also helps if you know the area.”

In the 1920s two fishermen were swept off the rocks at Skennars Head and almost drowned.

As a result of that accident nearby residents installed an iron peg for fishermen to use to secure themselves.


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